Just like the first day of a new job I was both excited and a bit nervous about my first shift. I got up early to make sure I would be ready. I packed my bag with my uniform, spare trousers, knickers and socks - we'd been warned by Uni to be prepared for a woman's waters breaking ;)
When I arrived at the hospital I made my way straight up to the ward and then went to change into my uniform. For the first time I felt like a proper student midwife. I had my name badge and ID card, and my pass so I could access the ward - what power! I went back to the desk and waited to be told what to do. At that time there was a fair few people there - a mixture of the night shift about to come off duty and the day shift coming on duty. Handover was done and the night shift disappeared off home. My mentor gave me a whistle stop tour of the unit and showed me where things were and then gave me time to wander around and familiarise myself a bit.
It was then a bit of waiting around for something to happen and luckily something did. There was a lady in labouring and she was progressing quite quickly and wanted to use the pool. So we got all hands on deck to get the pool room ready and the pool filled. I was then really lucky to be allowed to stay in the room and watch the birth. It was a very strange experience in some ways...I'd only briefly seen the woman's face as she'd come round to the unit and now I was getting a very different view.
I have had a water birth myself as well as a land birth and it's funny how memory tricks you, not to mention the effect of pain on your experience. I don't remember there being such a gap in between contractions, and whilst I know my labour would have been different, I suspect there was more time than I recall. The woman's birth partner was absolutely fantastic...he seemed to know exactly when she needed a drink, some cooling spray, a bit of humour and he really encouraged her well.
The birth itself was amazing to watch. I had seen a birth before but that was before the birth of my own children. And watching births on You Tube, whilst useful, does not compare at all. The woman had such amazing power of her own body. The midwife was very good at supporting her - knowing just when to stand back and listen and when she needed some encouragement.
Once the baby was born, it was wonderful to see that moment of relief and pure joy. It was the first moment I felt a little bit intrusive, into this precious, private moment between the new parents and their baby. The parents did not have any concerns with us being there however. I really feel honoured to have been able to share in their experience.
The rest of the day was rather more waiting and observing than anything else. Though I did help one lady to breastfeed. It took some time but we got there eventually and I felt really proud of the support I had provided. it was nice to be able to do something I felt confident in - especially on a day where I'd felt in the way or like a spare part most of the time.
At the end of the day I was tired but happy and looking forward to the next day.